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Romney: Emergency Room Is How America Should ‘Provide Care’ For Uninsured

by David Badash on September 24, 2012

in Healthcare,News,Politics

Post image for Romney: Emergency Room Is How America Should ‘Provide Care’ For Uninsured

Mitt Romney on “60 Minutes” last night said that the emergency room is how America should “provide care” for the uninsured.

WATCH: Romney On 60 Minutes: My Low Tax Rate ‘Puts People To Work’ (Video)

“Well, we do provide care for people who don’t have insurance,” said Romney to CBS News’ Scott Pelley. “If someone has a heart attack, they don’t sit in their apartment and die. We pick them up in an ambulance, and take them to the hospital, and give them care. And different states have different ways of providing for that care.”

“That care” is the absolute most expensive care possible, which often comes at the taxpayers’ expense, is not preventative, does not include follow-up care, and includes a far greater risk of death.

Take, for example, a 50-year old man who has insurance, goes to the doctor at least annually for a checkup — usually fully covered by his medical insurance. The doctor finds he has high blood pressure, prescribes a low-cost blood pressure prescription, which keep the man’s blood pressure in check. He does not have a heart attack, and perhaps even follows his doctor’s advice and loses weight and exercises regularly.

Then, take that same man, and remove his insurance, and look at him five or ten years later. He never goes to the doctor because it’s too expensive. He has a heart attack. Perhaps he is able to call 911 on his own. Perhaps not. If not, (sorry, Mitt,) he dies. If he does, and the ambulance gets there in time, perhaps they can save his life, but perhaps he is unable to continue working and has to rely on the government for the rest of his life. Either way — recovery or not — the taxpayer is paying the cost of his care.

This entire conversation is ridiculous at this point in our history, and Romney, more than anyone should, should know that an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.

Romney’s shocking lack of understanding of these very basics make him unqualified to even discuss health care — much less be president.

Sam Stein and Amanda Terkel at The Huffington Post note that this “constitutes a dramatic reversal in position for Romney, who passed a universal health care law in Massachusetts, in part, to eliminate the costs incurred when the uninsured show up in emergency rooms for care.”

Indeed, in both his book and in high-profile interviews during the campaign, Romney has touted his achievement in stamping out these inefficiencies while arguing that the same thing should be done at the national level.

And while Romney refused to agree on Sunday that the government’s role is to ensure that every American has health care, he has endorsed such an idea in the past.

When asked in a March 2010 interview on MSNBC’s “Morning Joe” whether he believes in universal coverage, Romney said, “Oh, sure.”

“Look, it doesn’t make a lot of sense for us to have millions and millions of people who have no health insurance and yet who can go to the emergency room and get entirely free care for which they have no responsibility, particularly if they are people who have sufficient means to pay their own way,” he said.

And in a 2007 interview with Glenn Beck, Romney called the fact that people without insurance were able to get “free care” in emergency rooms “a form of socialism.”

“When they show up at the hospital, they get care. They get free care paid for by you and me. If that’s not a form of socialism, I don’t know what is,” he said at the time. “So my plan did something quite different. It said, you know what? If people can afford to buy insurance … or if they can pay their own way, then they either buy that insurance or pay their own way, but they no longer look to government to hand out free care. And that, in my opinion, is ultimate conservativism.”

Video via Talking Points Memo

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{ 6 comments }

InvokeRights September 24, 2012 at 4:32 pm

UGH…I hate him even more now.

I have HIV. My medication costs $1800+/month. My lab work is about $200+/quarter. Follow-ups to the Dr? Sliding scale so around $40/quarter. My insurances (yes, I have to have TWO, plus one program to pay for the premiums/deductibles) pay for it all. My insurances are paid for by the state/government.

So by his logic, I should go to the ER? Color me confused!

I'm glad he can afford to pay for this kind of thing out of pocket, or get the best insurance possible without help, but let's take away ALL your money and give you only $800/month to live on (which is still more than me) and see how much he complains then!

Go to the ER my ass.
Get Insurance I can't afford my ass.

Mitt, your an ass.

jarredh September 24, 2012 at 5:10 pm

My medication costs $1800+/month.

That's just morally wrong. I'm sorry.

InvokeRights September 25, 2012 at 6:59 pm

Your telling me? I think it's absurd that medication that I need on a daily basis costs so much.

eroissyfr September 24, 2012 at 5:23 pm

Why am I surprised this idiot continues to look down his nose at the majority of Americans?

Let's take this issue out of the realm of anecdotal and give a real life scenario. Mine. I work for a small company (5 people) which can not afford the high cost of providing insurance to it's employees. In the state of Oregon, it would cost me $600 (no exaggeration) to get private individual insurance at my age (51) and with high blood pressure and now with cancer it is probably much higher.

. I can't afford the cost of a simple doctor's office visit at the local Legacy clinic ($276 PER visit) to maintain my prescriptions, which I CAN afford.

I found a clinic system in Washington State that cost $75 a month, no limit on visits and anything (mostly) they do in house is included in the cost.

So back to the medical emergency scenerio. I had a small growth on my left buttock which the Legacy doctor (2 or them) blew off last year because I don't have insurance. My new doctor which I have to travel 45 miles to see an lose a 1/2 day from work, immediately looked at it and ordered a biopsy (paid for under the monthly fee).

The biopsy (the area had aggressively grown in the last 8 month) was a stage II malignant melanoma. A year ago, it would have been easily taken care of. This required a 6 hour operation, an overnight stay in the hospital, 2 1/2 weeks lost wages at full time, another week at part time, forced to go back to work 3 weeks earlier than I should have because I have bills to pay and $40000 plus in hospital related bills. Not t mention the physical toll of not being able to heal at home and the stress it put on me.

And they found another issue during all the testing which I need to get checked out but hey no money to deal with that. AND at least 2 years of follow up dermatological visits (don't know where the money for that is going to come from) and I get to look forward to a significantly higher chance of this reoccurring.

At least all of the tissue and lymph nodes came back clean. So that is something.

I was more stressed out about the money before the surgery then about the surgery itself. My blood pressure was off the charts and it is a wonder I didn't have a stroke. Seriously. 197/140 when I checked in.

I make $1000 a year too much for the Medicaid plan under the Oregon guidelines and I may be eligible for a social security program but it could be 2 years before I know.

But wait, if I was pregnant, a legal immigrant or a legal refugee I would be automatically eligible for medicaid.. Really? yep.

So Mitt you can go to hell.

LOrion September 24, 2012 at 5:39 pm

This is so horrific… well except maybe for my daughter who is becoming and Emergency Room doctor…but we really do need Hospitalists, Cardiologists, and Neurosurgeons.. let alone Women, Bone, Cancer, Eye, Lung, Arthritis, specialists…oh and GENERAL SURGEONS and Researchers too! DUH! What century does this man live in? Oh we also need hospitals and medical schools …. and nurses and staff etc. None of whom work in the ER!

larrylinn September 24, 2012 at 8:29 pm

Someone can have Tuberculosis, Meningitis, or some other easily contagious disease, and not have the insurance, or the financial means to see a Physician, because they think that it is a cold, or the flu. The result will be that others in close contact with this person will become ill with deadly diseases.

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